Tesco has launched Hudl, a low cost Android tablt, sorry, tablet, computer with a visual identity, name, packaging, point of sale and more from SomeOne
It’s an intriguing move from Tesco. The retailer has apparently had the device built to its own specs (based on shopper feedback). As much as it represents a fascinating new challenger at the bottom end of the hardware market, the Hudl also provides Tesco with its own portal into its existing online services such as Clubcard TV and both film and ebook offerings. No doubt it will also provide very valuable consumer data in the process.
The branding has, therefore, had to look both ways. On the one hand, its competing against the likes of Nexus as a technology brand
On the other, it sits alongside the parent Tesco brand in mainstream, mass retail.
SomeOne’s co-founder Gary Holt sheds some light on the studio’s thinking here: “It’s important that the Hudl has a brand and personality all its own, yet brought to you by Tesco. It’s what Tesco refer to as a ‘brand by Tesco’. Just as they have F&F for fashion. This means that the brand, look and feel and tone can be crafted and delivered for the specific area and target audience”.
Pick up a Hudl and you would be hard-pressed to realise that it was a Tesco product at all. On the front, the only Tesco presence is a subtle T button bottom left via which the user accesses the various Tesco services.
On the back, the Hudl name is applied subtly, the Tesco logo sitting at the bottom
That star comes from SomeOne’s over-arching idea for the brand – that “the tablet is becoming an important device in people’s lives, notably family lives, ideal for online shopping, digital entertainment and social networking and as such they are emerging as a ‘retail portal’ of the future”. So the star “is a solar system metaphor that reflects Hudl being at the centre of a digital orbit, and of family life”.
A more explicit evocation of that idea can be seen in this treatment which is being used on the Tesco homepage.
The word mark uses Neutraface No 2 from House Industries, which is also used on the packaging
and on collateral
“The Hudl has its own separate iconography, notably designed to help you set up and use the tablet, as well as helping deliver the Tesco branded services,” Holt explains. “These have been specifically designed for Hudl, yet clearly consider the user experience and relationship that they have with the Android platform – which also has functional iconography all its own. This did mean that a number of the icons for Hudl could be warm in tone. Like the Magician’s top hat icon for ‘Tips & Tricks’. We also created a special Getting Started App (represented by another icon of ours ‘123’) to ensure new users get the help and support they need.”
Here’s a selection of the icons, some of which add the Hudl star to standard Android designs
And the Guardian’s hands-on review of the device which explains a litle bit about the relationship between the Hudl bits of the interface and the standard Android experience and in which you can see some of them in use (if you look very closely)
According to SomeOne, one of the key parts of the brief for the product was to try to, as partner and creative director Laura Hussey says, “inject warmth into a category that can often be overly technical.” Their idea, she says, was to “help to soften what can often be stark and technologically-led communications”.
This is very much a ‘family’ product. Without having used the device it’s very hard to assess how well this ‘warmth’ comes across. I’m not a particular fan of the icons as they appear in the stills above, for example (just a bit too cutesy for me), but they may well be more succesful in context. They also embody a particular challenge for this project. Kids intuitively get technology and are probably far more expert in its use than their parents and grandparents. There’s no need to ‘dumb down’ or soften edges for them. So the ‘friendliness’ here is far more likely to be aimed at older users who may otherwise find technology forbidding. It’s very much the ITV of tablets.
Is there, rather like pre-iOS7 Apple, a disconnect between the slickness of the branding on the hardware compared to the approach of the interface? Again, it’s hard to tell how that plays out without having used one but, if so, it makes some sense. There are almost two messages being put out here – firsty to convince consumers that the device is credible as a piece of kit, and then to provide all the family with a user experience that is appropriate to the brand and gets neophytes comfortable with using all those lucrative digital services and products. That’s quite a tought trick but one that the Hudl appears to have pulled off. And for a Tesco product, that mark – in particular as it appears on the back of the product – is really very nice.
UPDATE: the Hudl user experience element was designed and built by ustwo. This included tablet set up, basic use guidance, safety information for parents, system and app iconography, as well as the design of system sounds and wallpapers